Australian news, and some related international items

Critical time as nuclear fuel removal underway at Fukushima reactor No 4

NHK: Fuel removal at Unit 4 underway — BBC: Concern casks not watertight, rods would contact air — WSJ: Exposure to air can cause sustained nuclear reaction — AFP: Tokyo evacuations if uncontrolled nuclear conflagration? AP: Rods contain plutonium, experts concerned quake to hit during process

NHK,, Nov. 18, 2013: The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has begun removing nuclear fuel from a storage pool at a damaged reactor building. Workers placed a special fuel transport container in the storage pool […] At around 3PM on Monday, the workers started to hoist the unused fuel units into the steel container […] debris in the pool of the Number 4 reactor building could obstruct the work. […] The removal work requires extreme caution, as any damage to the units could release high-level radiation.

WSJ, Nov. 18, 2013: “We plan to begin the removal process from around 3 pm today, and work until around 7 pm,” said Tepco spokesman Tsuyoshi Numajiri. […] The units are kept in a pool of cool water to prevent exposure to air, which can cause the radioactive material to heat up and could trigger a sustained nuclear reaction.

BBC,, Nov. 18, 2013: [It’s a critical issue] whether the casks remain watertight so the rods have no contact with air.

AFP,, Nov. 18, 2013: Each rod contains uranium and a small amount of plutonium. If they are exposed to the air […] they would start to heat up, a process that, left unchecked, could lead to a self-sustaining nuclear reaction – known as “criticality”. […] Sceptics say with so many unknowables in an operation that has never been attempted under these conditions, there is potential for a catastrophe. Government modelling in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster […] suggested that an uncontrolled nuclear conflagration at Fukushima could start a chain reaction in other nearby nuclear plants. That worst-case scenario said a huge evacuation area could encompass a large part of greater Tokyo […]

AP,, Nov.18, 2013: […] [Experts] raised concern about a major earthquake hitting during the removal work. Japanese nuclear engineers were on Monday preparing to move uranium and plutonium fuel rods at Fukushima […] Experts have warned that slip-ups could quickly cause the situation to deteriorate. […]
Kyodo News, , Nov. 18, 2013: Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has said the work requires “great prudence” because the pools are strewn with small pieces of rubble […] “The fuel has to be handled very carefully. There is a need to make sure that a fuel assembly is not pulled out (from the fuel rack) by force when it gets stuck because of the rubble,” he said.

Watch NHK’s broadcast here

November 19, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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